$2.4b worth of tenders to be called this year to deliver Smart Nation projects

E-payment is among the Smart Nation projects to be covered by this year's tech budget.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's tech budget this year will be close to last year's record high as the country gears up to deliver results on a Smart Nation sensor network, and set up its first sophisticated cyber threat monitoring centre.

A total of $2.4 billion worth of technology tenders will be called this year to invest in data analytics software and a communications backbone to link up sensors and data centres.

A tender for the first Government Security Operation Centre (SOC), featuring artificial intelligence and analytics smarts to detect and manage sophisticated cyber threats, will also be called by the first half of next year (2018).

The SOC will soak up a huge portion of the cyber security budget, set at $528 million. It will replace the existing Cyber-Watch Centre, which has been in place since 2007 and the contract for which will expire in 2019.

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Ms Jacqueline Poh, chief executive of Government Technology Agency (GovTech), said that infrastructure projects such as network and cabling have been well underway from last year's spending to build "the foundation of a Smart Nation and a digital government".

"This year, the Government intends to spend a larger proportion of the budget on digital and data analytics projects, cyber security systems and smart applications," said Ms Poh.

Digital and data analytics projects and cyber security spending combined will account for close to half of this year's total budget.

She was addressing a crowd of 1,000 people at a briefing with the infocommunications industry on Wednesday (May 24).

The investment will form part of the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP), which will feature a video analytics system to help detect anomalies to predict, for instance, potential unruly crowds or traffic congestion.

The SNSP will also ride on the Land Transport Authority's 95,000 lamp posts islandwide to transmit data such as temperature and humidity collected from sensors - if an ongoing pilot between LTA and GovTech is successful.

Mr Chan Cheow Hoe, the Government's chief information officer, said: "The ability to sense everything around the country is important. We need to build a nationwide platform to allow us to make better decisions and respond quickly by analysing the data (collected)."

Continued spending on robots is also on the cards this year. GovTech has identified a potential partner in Temasek Polytechnic to build a robot to automatically detect missing or wrongly-shelved books in the latter's library by scanning a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag on the books.

This year's budget is close to the $2.82 billion spent last year (2016).

Last year, two-thirds of the total number of technology contracts went to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

One of the SMEs is DC Frontiers. Its Handshakes analysis tool lets users check up on the background of over 6 million companies and people in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The tool is being used by the public sector procurement and audit teams to flag any conflict of interest in companies the Government deals with.